difficult friends

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2004
difficult friends
7
Mon, 08-09-2010 - 6:48pm

Not looking for help today. I just came by to read about other people's relationship problems to put my present experiences into perspective. My best friends are like family to me - we see them practically every day. We have meals together, travel together, and there is almost nothing we don't do for one another. But they are also dysfunctional, having between them alcoholism, a range of mental health disorders, bad debt, and marginal employment. The problems are not one-sided by a long shot, so I am equally sympathetic to each of them coping with their lives.

I am worried for their children. That was my first motivation for becoming involved in their problems. But I am also conscious of how their presence in our lives and the attention they draw from me might be affecting our children. I tell myself that I am modeling for my children how to be part of a genuinely committed, caring, accepting community. So many people around us have deep problems and are barely getting by. But the friends who have most closely attached to us have the most frustrating, systemic issues. Every few months, another crisis that leaves me emotionally drained. Always this fine line between helping them move mountains and overstepping their boundaries while my husband exerts pressure on me to pull back when it doesn't feel like the right thing to do.

I used to be involved in church life and other volunteer efforts, and be more focused on my career, but I have no time or energy for this anymore. In addition to my own family, personal relationships with friends are more than I can manage. Caring for the people in my life is always my highest priority. Comparatively in our social group, we are the ones who have it all together. I would really love to find some friends who are functionally better off than we are. Who don't *need* me. But then, the people I connect with are usually the ones who clearly *do* need a strong support system. I am cynical about anyone who doesn't.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2006
In reply to: _lux_
Mon, 08-09-2010 - 7:04pm

Very interesting post. I know what you mean about attracting people who "need" you. Needy people tend to be drawn to nurturing people. Takers are attracted to givers and vice versa.

Sometimes nurturing people spend a little more time with the friends who "need" them most. They reason that since one person is "going through something", they should be a good samitan and give that person more time and attention. But sometimes, the other friends distance themselves, because they may feel a bit neglected.

I get coerced into spending more time with the needy ones too, but lately, I've been making a concious effort to spend time with the not-so-needy.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2004
In reply to: _lux_
Thu, 08-12-2010 - 8:20pm

uggh. Every day another explosive episode. This one just goes too far. I'll think about it another day, but not today.

It is really a bizarre bubble universe I live in with them. They don't realize how far off the map they are. I don't know myself sometimes what is reasonable and what isn't. Sometimes I just need a break, but they never do. The more drama, the more one or the other of them wants to play it out on me.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-29-2010
In reply to: _lux_
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 1:14am

I have a question, why are you friends with them still?

Yes, it's good to be there for people but---you still are human and have your own self to keep grounded. If they can't figure out what's going on or what is wrong in their lives, they never will. It takes one to change, not to be forced by another.

Maybe take some time away from them and go on your own path. It seems like they're really dragging you down and not keep a balanced friendship; they should just be alone for a while.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2004
In reply to: _lux_
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 7:45am

I know they never will change - or at least if they do it will happen because they do it, an nothing I do. They are perfectly intelligent, capable people and they know what is wrong with themselves. They just haven't made a commitment to fixing themselves, which is none of my business. I can only help them manage on a day-to-day basis.

A few things keep us together. They do things to take care of us too. They're like family. We feel perfectly comfortable with eachother and are together all the time - although we sometimes have to beg for a break, we often miss them when we don't see them. And their children are like a niece and nephew to us - I cannot leave them to flounder in the chaos of their parents' lives without stable, predictable adults close by.

Everything about them, and us, and our relationship with eachother defies conventional wisdom. But I couldn't possibly explain enough to make sense of that to a stranger.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-29-2010
In reply to: _lux_
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 1:07pm
Well, as long as you're happy and content is all that matters.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2006
In reply to: _lux_
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 2:57pm
I know what you mean about your life being intertwined with theirs. Perhaps when the drama gets to be a bit much, you can make yourself unavailable at times. I know that sounds a little underhanded, but you need a break too. :P

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2004
In reply to: _lux_
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 7:39pm
Thank you - sometimes I just need to be heard. Part of the reason why it all works is because I can cool down so quickly and completely. Part of the reason why I can do that is because we are so intertwined. I always know where things are coming from. I get overwhelmed by the frequency of intensity. Yes - I do need a break away sometimes. Fortunately I am getting one this weekend.